Should Apple have killed the iPod?
Fans poured their hearts out on social media upon hearing the news that Apple planned to discontinue its last remaining iPod, the iPod Touch.
“This lingering devotion makes sense,” wrote Joanna Stern, the Wall Street Journal’s personal technology columnist, in a column. “The iPod and the iTunes music store may have given way to all the smartphones and streaming services so many of us are now stuck on, but that doesn’t mean the newer arrivals are better.”
She noted many fans still use iPods in their cars and homes and on their runs partly because most versions offered “no distractions.” With most disconnected from the internet, the iPod experience comes free of notifications or temptations to check social media, leaving the focus on music.
Another reason for iPods’ continued appeal is that they’re compact and durable. With some versions as small as the Shuffle at 0.44 ounces, iPods are more portable than the iPhone, and most don’t have a screen to break.
Their affordability further meant an iPod was often a person’s first Apple device, with prices starting as low as $59 for the Shuffle (2GB of storage) and multiple versions all the way up to the current Touch (32GB, $199.99; 128GB, $299.99) that includes online access. Wrote Craig Grannell for Stuff, the British consumer electronics magazine, about Touch, “It remained the obvious choice if you wanted an iPhone experience, but couldn’t afford — or didn’t need — an actual iPhone.”
Tributes detailed how the iPod, which first arrived in 2001, had upended the consumer electronics and music industry and put Apple on map. It also inspired the iPhone, which along with the arrival of Spotify made the iPod increasingly irrelevant.
On social media, fans reminisced about their first or favorite iPods, which included the Classic, Nano and Mini, as well as favorite colors.
“Today, the spirit of iPod lives on,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s SVP of Worldwide Marketing, in a press release, pointing to Apple Music and iPod’s technology being integrated in devices from the iPhone to Apple Watch and HomePod mini. He said, “There’s no better way to enjoy, discover, and experience music.”
- The music lives on – Apple
- Apple Killed the iPod. Here’s Why It Should Live On. – Wall Street Journal
- Farewell to the iPod – New York Times
- The iPod created the two-headed monster that finally killed it – Engadget
- Apple discontinues the iPod after 20 years – The Verge
- ‘What a Shame’: A Generation Mourns as Apple Announces It Will Discontinue Beloved Device – Entrepreneur
- 5 reasons we’re sad Apple killed the iPod Touch – and 5 reasons we’re not – Stuff
- Death Of The iPod: The Real Reason Apple Killed Off The iPod – Forbes
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Should Apple have found a way to keep the iPod going? What’s your take on the gadget’s legacy?
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17 Comments on "Should Apple have killed the iPod?"
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Co-founder, RSR Research
I have a few iPods that I use in my car, on the plane and wherever Wi-Fi isn’t available. I would have preferred Apple kept them going. I’m not keen to trade mine in for an unlimited data plan or a very expensive iPhone with a lot of storage.
I can understand the business decision, but it’s a personal bummer.
Principal, Retailing In Focus LLC
Apple made a rational, not emotional, decision about the iPod. The costs of product development, sourcing and selling were hard to justify compared to tis contribution to Apple’s volume. (And, as anyone with an old iPhone knows, it’s still useful as a music player as soon as it’s replaced as a smartphone.) Decisions to drop legacy products are never easy and are often emotional — think about GM dropping Oldsmobile and Pontiac — but they are justified in cases like this.
Managing Director, GlobalData
When the iPod was launched it was revolutionary. However smartphones now do all that iPods did and much more besides. Most people have no need for multiple devices and also require internet connected phones to access their music subscriptions and libraries in the cloud. As much as it is a shame to see an iconic piece technology fade, Apple is just moving with commercial realities.
CEO, New Sega Home
Maybe the iPod can be Apple’s McRib? But only if the public outcry is enough, as the sentiments haven’t mirrored the sales performance otherwise it wouldn’t have been on the chopping block.
Managing Partner, Advanced Simulations
So I age myself when I vote for portability over multi-function. Hard to stream while mowing my lawn – my nano that clips anywhere is so much easier. Yes, they should have stopped development but continued production.
Managing Director, RAM Communications
Frankly, I’m surprised it took Apple this long to make this move. For those who miss the fact you can disconnect with the iPod, you can get an older iPhone with more space and capabilities for about the same price as the Touch.
Marketing Strategy Lead - Retail, Travel & Distribution, Verizon
I am not a devoted iPod user, as I chucked mine many years ago when I got my first iPhone. If I were a runner, I may have kept using iPods. However now there are many options to stream music beyond the iPod. The decision to discontinue the iPod is likely a strategic move by Apple to focus investments on higher profit margin products.
Strategy & Operations Transformation Leader
All great innovations have a product lifecycle. Unfortunately for the iPod fans, the momentum around smartphone app-based music streaming services, starting with Pandora and now with Spotify and Apple Music, has made the once-iconic and revolutionary device irrelevant. Music as a service is the current operating model, which replaces the need to store your music collection locally on the iPod’s local memory.
We should all recognize how truly groundbreaking and transformational the iPod introduction was back in 2001. In a world where we were fumbling with a variety of MP3 players, CD collections in our cars, etc., the arrival of the iPod changed how we listen to music. The emergence of the iPhone, Android devices, etc., was the beginning of the end for the iPod. As a Spotify user, I haven’t used an iPod in over ten years.
We should all take a few minutes and rewatch Steve Jobs introduce the iPod back in 2001 to gain a perspective on where we were back then and how transformational this device was.
The IPod came at a time when I wasn’t carrying my iPhone all the time, so that made it easy to carry the iPod in my pocket all the time. I loved that device – it was my upgrade from my Sony Walkman. However, eventually, somewhere in the line of product succession, it got to be too much to carry an iPod, a work iPhone and a personal iPhone all the time, so the iPod had to be retired. Apple has progressed so far that now all you need is a watch and wireless earbuds. Pretty cool.
Director, Retail Market Insights, Aptos
Believe it or not, I still have my original first-generation iPod, and I still use it occasionally. It’s light, small and disconnected, and I feel like it gives me some cred for being cool 20 years ago! I get why Apple made this decision, but wonder what will come along to replace this (admittedly small) spot in the market. No one, in my opinion, has ever come close to matching the form factor, user experience and efficiency of the iPod. It will be fun to watch this space to see what comes next.
EVP Thought Leadership, Marketing, WD Partners
What’s an iPod? (Just kidding.) “Planned obsolescence” has always been their mantra. Surprised it took so long.
CFO, Weisner Steel
“(sic) put Apple on map.” Really? This all seems a little silly: high on nostalgia but low on importance. On a more practical note, discontinuance (by one company) often offers up opportunities for others, though perhaps proprietary technology makes that impossible here.
Founder, Grey Space Matters
Lots of valid points in support of keeping the iPod but going forward — i.e., for those who aren’t current iPod users — who needs one versus the smart phone, tablet or laptop they carry? Or the watch they wear? Clearly an opportunity cost for Apple to continue production as well as the absence of recurring fees that come with (or are generated) by other devices.
Retail and Customer Experience Expert
Nostalgia is powerful, but I don’t see the new generation of consumers having a separate music device unless they are a DJ or in the music business. It is a rational decision to simplify their product line and frankly the resources can be reallocated to their iPhone and other entertainment systems. It was great for its time and I will miss it. Who knows, maybe you will have an Apple portable speaker with built in storage as the next iteration or something we haven’t thought about yet.
Founder & CEO, HotWax Commerce
My sole answer to this article is for Apple lovers who have loaded up on Apple devices, including the iPod, to go find their iPods and store them safely. iPods are now worth more than what you paid for. True Apple lovers will gladly pay enough for these iPods to help you in buying your new gadgets.
Partner, Candezent & Retail Cities Consultant
If everyone who “loved” Marshall Fields actually shopped there, it might still be with us today.
Global Industry Architect, Microsoft Retail
I miss my iPod Nano for its cuteness but the thing that killed it for me was how difficult it was to get music onto. Spotify changed that for me and now my phone provides the sounds that shape my life.
My big surprise was not from a consumer perspective but from a business tool perspective. The iPod Touch has for quite some time been a hand-held device that could be used as a tool for store associates (and indeed many other environments too) — in fact Apple used them in their own stores for payments and orders. They have now moved to iPads, but I am amazed there is not space for a physically smaller device. Did Apple undersell the potential usefulness of this device to corporations?